During my time with this bike I came to know it very, VERY well.
It’s very first outing (other than a tootle around the local woods to get the fit right) was the 560km bikepacking monster that is the Tuscany Trail.
I spent more than 50 hours riding the thing over 3.5 days of the very best and worst riding I’ve ever done – it was emotional!
So what’s it like?
This bike is a very welcome breath of fresh air. It is neither a traditional snow/sand beast nor a modern trail-ready fatbike. It shuns convention by being capable of both at the same time and excels whilst doing so.
The geometry is both stable and responsive with a chainstay length of 455mm (exactly half way between those of the long-wheelbase 9zero7 ‘Whiteout’ and On-one’s trail-centric ‘Fatty’).
Out on the trail it felt lively on the descents and at the same time it climbed better than some skinny tyred bikes I’ve ridden.
Not all plain sailing
I don’t want to spend too long talking about the components as Travers only offer the Fat Race as a frame or rolling chasis only but…..
The bike I was using had recently been out on test with another bike magazine and had been returned with it’s drivetrain thoroughly trashed!
This meant that Michael had no choice but to replace the chainset with a 1×10 (32t:11-34t) which was a little less than suitable to the 1000m climbs I was undertaking (fully loaded with bikepacking gear).
Needless to say it nearly killed me but, as I say, it’s not the fault of the bike or Travers and so let’s not dwell on it.
The other components on the bike were second to none with pretty much everything being either carbon or titanium (from Travers own component range where available).
The Nextie wheels were faultless (despite me having heard very mixed things about their performance when it matters) as were the Maxxis ‘Mammoth’ tyres which were fast rolling and yet soaked up everything I threw at ’em.
The carbon Prong forks were stiff but not harsh and the finishing kit did the trick (i.e. I didn’t notice it and so it must have been working solidly).
I switched out the saddle and grips so that I wouldn’t have to suffer (quite so much) on the Tuscany Trail but otherwise I rode the bike as supplied.
Another thing that absolutely has to be mentioned are the unrivaled good looks, clean lines, clever design and all round loveliness of this bike – it is drop-dead gorgeous!
The soft stuff
Despite my best intentions to drag the bike up to high altitude to give it a blast in the snow the mid-May warm spell we had meant that all of the snow had rudely buggered off and so I’ll have to save that particular pleasure for another time.
But…..I did ride the bike in some very soft and powdery sand on the Tuscan coast.
It was immediately evident that the wheelbase was longer than a common trail-fatty and the bike felt stable and capable.
I spent a lot of time switching between this bike, my 26er (I know, I know, the 26″ bike is dead but no-one has told mine and so it still rides like a dream), 29er and the ‘Fat Race’ and so I really feel like it was given a thorough comparison test and results were…..
It’s good. Very good. It’s not as nimble or agile as either of the other two bikes but it’s not supposed to be, it’s a fatbike!
It does however more than hold its own on singletrack and is a hoot to throw around on the tech ribbon-like trails on offer in the Chamonix Valley.
In a nutshell, it’s one hell of a machine! Rides well, looks great, light, stiff, responsive and all of the other good things you want to read about a truly great bike.
The downside (and there always has to be one!) is that it’s not the cheapest frame in the world and with all of the bling finishing kit you’d not get much (any?) change from four grand!!!
As much as I’d love to be the proud owner of a Fat Race it’s going to have to wait until the kids have grown, left home and gotten high paying city jobs and they get me one for Christmas.
In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller:
“It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”